The latest product to land on the review desk is one that I’ve wanted for personal use for quite some time. So, when I reached out to the company and requested samples for review, I was super stoked when they responded with a gracious “yes”! Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to share my thoughts about Lensball.
So, what is Lensball?
I know, it sounds like some futuristic sport, doesn’t it?
It’s actually one of the most simple products I’ve ever reviewed. But, it’s also one of the coolest!
Disclaimer: Lensball isn’t necessarily smartphone or technology related, but as many of you know, I’m a photographer in addition to the work I do here. With that in mind, you can expect to see reviews like this one on the site from time to time. It’s worth mentioning that you can take photos of a Lensball with a smartphone camera, but a DSLR or mirrorless camera will yield better results.
The company touts the product as being “built keeping in mind the quality standards a professional photographer needs, for a price everyone can afford. Your smartphone won’t be freaking out either: autofocus and other smart camera features work with Lensball, just like you like it.”
Here are two of my favorite photos I’ve taken with my Pixel 2 and Lensball – I’d say the autofocus works just fine with a decent smartphone camera.
Lensball is a crystal ball – or more eloquently spoken, a “gorgeous photography sphere”, as the makers put it. It’s essentially a tool for creating crystal ball refraction photos. With a dash of creativity and a camera, the sky is the limit when it comes to creating awesome images.
But, is it as awesome as it sounds, or is it just a gimmicky fad that will soon wear off? Is it something that can be used in a professional photographer’s arsenal? How much bulk will it add to your ever-growing gear stash?
I’ll answer these questions and more in this review. And I’ll sprinkle in a few of my favorite photos I’ve taken with them as well.
But first – let’s talk about the… Specifications? I say that with a question mark because there aren’t many specs to go over here.
Available in two flavors
- Lensball Pro ($34.95): 80mm in diameter, weighs 650 grams (1.45lbs)
- Lensball Pocket ($24.95): 60mm in diameter, weighs 250 grams (0.55lb)
- Both variants are made of K9 quartz, a lens-grade, optically clear crystal mostly used in optics and lenses giving you the sharpest possible image.
- Both variants include a protective microfiber pouch for storage and cleaning fingerprints and smudges from the Lensball.
Is Lensball an awesome photography tool or a gimmick?
I’m sure opinions will vary here. Personally, I think it’s a great tool to help boost creativity, and you can pull off some pretty amazing photos once you get the hang of using it. The product is all the rage on Instagram, and there’s also a large “Lensball Family” group on Facebook with tons of active members posting inspirational photos.
But will the craze die out? That’s really a question that time itself is going to have to answer.
I’ve been using mine for about a month now, and I’m still loving it just as much as day one. Can I see myself using it five years down the road? Absolutely. But, I’m not one to follow trends or fads – I like the product, so I’ll continue to use it.
Will Lensball start a fire?
Think magnifying glass plus sun. That’s exactly what happens when you hold the Lensball out in direct sunlight. And it happens quickly, too. In fact, the first time I used the thing on a bright sunny day, it took about 30 seconds before I felt what initially seemed like a bee sting on my hand.
Ultra hot sun laser beam? You guessed it!
That’s not to say it can’t be used on a sunny day, but you’ll want to be mindful of where you hold it and for how long. I suggest finding a somewhat shady area to shoot, if possible.
Can a professional photographer use Lensball?
This is a tough question to answer.
By definition, a professional photographer is someone who is paid for their photography work. Photography isn’t my full-time job (yet), but I do have paying portrait clients, so I am a professional photographer – and I use Lensball.
That said, I haven’t ever incorporated it into a professional portrait shoot – and I’m not sure I would unless it was specifically requested by a client.
Don’t get me wrong – they are a ton of fun to use. And, I’ll continue using mine. But, for starters, I don’t want to potentially burn a client (yes, it gets hot that quick). And, it just doesn’t contribute to my personal style, when it comes to shooting portraits.
Landscapes and fine art type stuff, on the other hand? Sure! The sky is the limit in this genre – and who am I to say you can’t make a banger print and sell tons of copies of it?
How much space will Lensball take up in your gear bag?
The Lensball Pro is essentially the same size and weight as toting around an extra camera lens. This may be a turn off for many photographers who look to pack as light as possible. Personally, I don’t own a ton of gear, so there’s enough room in my bag for it for now if I leave one of my lenses at home. It’s a compromise, but one I’m willing to make.
The Lensball Pocket is nice because it fits comfortably in… You guessed it… Your pocket! The downfall here is you don’t get as much reflective surface for your images. But, I find both the 80mm and 60mm Lensball easy to shoot with and can get cool shots with either one.
Either route you take will obviously add a little to the weight you’re carrying, but it’s a fair trade off, in most cases.
Which Lensball should you get?
Do yourself a favor and get both. If you go the cheap route and only get the Pocket, you’ll find yourself wishing you had gotten the Pro, too. You don’t have to carry them both around constantly, although you probably will once you get your hands on them. But for less than $100, this is definitely one of the coolest photography accessories you’ll ever find.
Where to buy
You can get Lensball directly from the manufacturer website, where you’ll get free shipping on orders of $45 or more. That’s just one more reason to get both. They’re also on Amazon – if you pick them up there, I’ll receive a small commission since I’m an Amazon Affiliate. They are slightly more expensive on Amazon, however, just by a couple of bucks. But, you can get free shipping via Prime, so that may save you a few dollars if you decide to only buy one.
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